C. Hugh Holman Award

holman photo

The Society’s Executive Council established the Holman award at its December 1985 meeting. The award is named for the late highly esteemed scholar of Southern Literature, C. Hugh Holman, who taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The annual award is for the best book of literary scholarship or literary criticism in the field of Southern Literature published during a given calendar year, with the copyright date of the book determining its year of publication for this purpose. The recipient of the award is designated in a written statement to that effect sent by the President of the Society to the book’s author and to its publisher well in advance of that year’s Modern Language Association convention. The first public announcement of the recipient of the award is made at the society’s session at the Modern language Association convention by the Society’s President or the President’s designee, at which time the book’s author is to be given a framed copy of the Society’s Holman Award certificate bearing the President’s signature and with the author’s name and the book’s title having been entered on it by a calligrapher. (The preparation of the certificate is the President’s responsibility.) In addition, the recipient will receive a check for at least $200.00. Both the author and the publisher of the book are to be invited by the President to attend this presentation. Through the initiative of the President, the recipient also is announced in the Society’s newsletter, the “Professional Notes and Comments” section of PMLA, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Books eligible for the award may be literary criticism, literary history, scholarly editions, or bibliographies, which show serious study of Southern literature and/or particular individual Southern writers (or groups of Southern writers). However, reprints of previously published books or essays are not eligible. Consideration of the book’s subject, research development, writing, and new contributions to the field are all pertinent for consideration—but not who wrote the book or who published it.

Each January the President of the Society will appoint a three-person committee (with one of its members already designated by the President as its chair) to consider all books eligible for this award that were published during the preceding calendar year.

At least one member of the committee is to have been on a recent year’s committee. The chair of the committee will consider all of the eligible books, and each of the other two members will consider a different half of them. No book by a committee member may be considered for the award (which is to be taken into consideration in appointing the committee). The chair of the committee will compile a list of the eligible books, using as many bibliographical aids as is deemed appropriate (e.g., reviews, ads, the Society’s newsletter, various other periodicals, the scholar book listings in The Chronicle of Higher Education, publishers’ catalogs, etc.). Early in the year the chair also will write to all publishers (academic and other) which might be expected to have published books eligible for the award (PMLA’s annual directory issue’s ‘Directory of Useful Addresses’ is of great help with this, though there are pertinent publishers not included in it). All such publishers will be informed of the award and invited to nominate eligible books and to send to the chair copies of the books for the committee’s use. However, the fact that a publisher does not respond is to have no bearing on consideration of its books.

The chair will send the other two committee members their duties and assignments (and a list of previous recipients and a copy of these guidelines) early enough so that they may report to the chair their recommendations no later than September 1. The chair will reconcile the recommendations of all three members, will report the results to the committee for their confirmation, and after receiving that will report the chosen recipient of the award to the Society’s President by September 30, including a paragraph of evaluation supporting the choice. The chair also will send the President a copy of that year’s invitation to publishers, a list of the books considered by the committee, a copy of the instructions to that year’s committee, and a newly updated copy of the continuing list of all recipients of the award since its beginning. The President will then pass on copies of all of these items (and of these guidelines) to the next year’s chair for information purposes. After the award has been announced at the convention of the Modern Language Association, the chair will thank those publishers that did send nominations and/or books.

(Adopted as amended 12/28/97, 4/17/98, 4/8/00)

Holman Committee Members

  • Keith Byerman, Indiana State University, chair
  • Keith Cartwright, University of North Florida, member
  • Ann Romines, George Washington University, member

Holman Award Winners

1986 Louis D. Rubin, ed. The History of Southern Literature. Louisiana State University Press, 1985.
1987 Richard Gray. Writing the South: Ideas of an American Region. Cambridge University Press, 1986
1988 David Herbert Donald. Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe. Little, Brown, 1987.
1989 Elizabeth Fox Genovese. Within the Plantation Household. University of North Carolina Press, 1988.
1990 Charles W. Wilson and William Ferris, eds. Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. University of North Carolina Press, 1989.
1991 Richard Nelson. Aesthetic Frontiers: The Machiavellian Tradition and the Southern Imagination. University Press of Mississippi, 1990.
1992 Peter Schmidt. The Heart of the Story: Eudora Welty’s Short Fiction. University Press of
Mississippi, 1991.
1993 Jay Tolson. Pilgrim in the Ruins: A Life of Walker Percy. Simon & Schuster, 1992.
1994 Margaret Rose Gladney, ed. How Am I To Be Heard?: Letters of Lillian Smith. University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
1995 Laurence G. Avery, ed. A Southern Life: Letters of Paul Green 1916-1981.
University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
1996 Janis P. Stout. Katherine Anne Porter: A Sense of the Times. University Press of Virginia, 1995.
1997 John M. Grammer. Pastoral and Politics in the Old South. Louisiana State University Press, 1996.
1998 Dale Cockrell. Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and Their World. Cambridge University Press, 1997.
1999 John D. Burt. The Collected Poems of Robert Penn Warren. Louisiana State University Press, 1998.
2000 Mary Kemp Davis. Nat Turner Before the Bar of Judgment: Fictional Treatments of the Southampton Slave Insurrection. Louisiana State University Press, 1999.
2001 Charlotte H. Beck. The Fugitive Legacy: A Critical History. Louisiana State University Press, 2001.
2002 Adam Gussow, Looks Like Murder Here: Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition (University of Chicago Press, 2002).
2003 Paul Elie, The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003).
2004 Michael O’Brien, Conjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810-1860 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004).
2005 Charles Hannon, Faulkner and the Discourses of Culture (Louisiana State University Press, 2005)
2006 Notebooks: Tennessee Williams. Ed. Margaret Bradham Thornton (Yale University Press, 2007).
2007 Gary M. Ciuba, Desire, Violence & Divinity in Modern Southern Fiction. (Louisiana State University Press, 2007).
2008 Scott Romine, The Real South: Southern Narrative in the Age of Cultural Reproduction (Louisiana State University Press, 2008).